HTC Eris Review – Not just Motorola Droid’s Little Brother

Brian McCaffrey

When I first saw the Eris, I basically scoffed it off as the phone you buy for the loved ones in your life who are less technically enabled. After having Verizon drop off a demo of the Eris, I Realized how wrong I was. Before I begin, let me state that I have had the Verizon Droid by Motorola since launch. So, don’t be surprised if I make a lot of comparisons. If you’re interested, you should check out Tech Corner’s review of the Droid at https://www.mndaily.com/node/54556

First, you’ll notice that the Eris is significantly lighter than the Motorola Droid. In fact it’s two-thirds the weight of the droid, which is something you definitely notice when picking up the Droid. The phone has a very sleek, curvacious look to it. Unlike the Motorola Droid, there is no physical keyboard. However, the virtual keyboard is almost on par with the iPhone’s keyboard.

Onto using the phone, you’ll notice that the Eris has seven home screen pages. It seems a tad ridiculous, but the screens quickly fill up with all sorts of widgets and applications. The graphical interface, which is a curved bar that shows you which home screen you’re on, is a nice touch that the Motorola Droid doesn’t have. The Eris currently runs Android 1.5, but has been announced to be upgradeable to Android 2.0 sometime in Quarter 1 of 2010. Despite it having less power than the Motorola Droid, the Eris is surprisingly quick and responsive. In fact, moving around menus and home screens was actually faster than on the Droid until a recent upgrade for the Droid.

Since the Eris is on the Verizon network, I was expecting high quality voice service but the Eris actually surpised me. The phone has possibly the best voice quality I have ever heard on a phone. Similar to the speed of menus comparison, the Eris was far superior in voice quality to the Droid until the Droid received its update. As a Verizon user in the Twin-Cities area, I have yet to find a place I can’t use my phone except in the basement levels of places like EE-CS. My phone works perfectly in my basement at home, which is more than other carriers can say.
For media, the Eris is what you would expect of an "app" phone. It certainly isn’t a dedicated digitial camera, but it does the job for mobile facebook uploading. Playing media, either youtube videos or music, sounds good and works adequately. The bigger screen size, resolution, and power behind the Motorola Droid make it a little better at media playing, but that’s to be expected.

So far so good, but there are problems with the Eris. Perusing around the web, you’ll find there are a lot of complaints against its battery life. I didn’t notice an extremely short battery life, but it did seem to drain a little bit faster than other phones of its class. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of a wheel on phones. I prefer the directional pad, but as I said that’s a personal preference.

Ultimately, the Eris is a phone that definitely warrants taking a gander at. For $100 less than a Droid, it packs a lot of punch. You get good phone service, Android (although it’s only 1.5 right now), and a slick phone for about $100 with a plan. It’s a solid piece of hardware that Verizon has overshadowed with the Droid.